Northeast Mississippi’s quest for state high school archery superiority took a giant step in the recent North state shoot.
Schools from the Daily Journal coverage area won North championships in Coffeeville in every classification: (1A) Tremont, (2A) Mantachie, (3A) South Pontotoc, (4A) Amory, (5A) Saltillo, (6A) Tupelo. Saltillo, Mantachie and Tremont are defending state champions.
The Archery in Mississippi Schools (AIMS) State Shoot is scheduled for today, Wednesday and Thursday at the Kirk Fordice Equine Center in Jackson. Teams, no matter the classification, are scheduled to shoot different days and the winners will be determined following the completion of the competition.
Saltillo’s score of 3,312 points at the North meet was the second highest overall. Defending 4A state champion Lawrence County shot a 3,364 high in the South meet.
Mark McCoy, a junior, and senior Tori Thornberry, paced Saltillo with their 287 and 285 scores. McCoy had 17 bullseyes, Thornberry 15.
North/South state scores from the classification champions: (6A) Tupelo 3,086, Petal 3,186; (5A) Picayune 3,207; (4A) Amory 3,263; (3A) South Pontotoc 3,221, Franklin County 3,217; (2A) Enterprise 3,049; (1A) Tremont 3,275, Dexter 3,025.
Tupelo’s Sherry Rial and Saltillo’s Jeff Cates, both first-year coaches, are continuing to learn about their sport as the season winds down.
“I’m just starting to figure it out and there’s what, a week and a half left in the season?” Cates said last week, then laughed. “I have some big shoes to fill. No pressure.”
Rial, who has coached soccer, softball, tennis, track and volleyball in 23 years, has enjoyed her first season.
“My learning curve on archery has improved,” she said. “The kids have been the ones who’ve stepped up. They’re top-notch kids. They’re very smart, follow the rules and keep me straight.”
Amanda Yielding is another first-year coach at Tremont. She replaced Sandy Webb. John Tigner was Mantachie’s coach last season when the Mustangs won state.
“The small schools around here are really good,” Tupelo’s Rial said. “It’s really been an eye-opener.”